It’s Like Tai Chi

Hello again, world.  This was our first week with students, and I have to say it was a great week.  We spent a portion of the week setting rules and expectations for the students while they are in our classroom, as well as getting them to analyze and critically think about history.  We discussed how history seems to repeat itself using examples such as the comparisons between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War, the Great Depression vs. the Great Recession, and the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.  The students seemed to really enjoy the conversations and the topics presented in class.

One of the big conversations I had with my cooperating teacher was on classroom management and effectively communicating with students in an urban education setting.  He described it like tai chi.  There is give and take to every situation, and an authoritarian style of teaching probably won’t work as well.  So it is imperative to create positive relationships with these students from the beginning, so they view our classroom as one with positive connotations.

Its been really great to work with my cooperating teacher thus far.  He has been extremely helpful and supportive, sharing with me his resources and asking for my constructive criticisms for the classroom.  Next week, we will start co-teaching as we move into unit 1, which will be starting with Manifest Destiny.  Following that, I will pick up the class with a unit that covers slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.  I look forward to creating the unit plans for this class and working with the students on a closer level.

The biggest challenge for me will be creating a unit that is engaging for the students while gauging how fast I can move through the material.  I think this will come with time, but I will need to make an effort to slow down the lessons if I think the class is moving at too quick of a pace.  Making sure the students grasp the content will be the most important thing, so I will have to balance engaging material with the speed of the classroom, which will come with experience.

But so far, so good.  I will update you with how our lessons went this week, specifically the mini-Document Based Questions (DBQ) activity we have planned on whether or not it was right of the United States to go to war with Mexico in the mid 19th Century.

About Pat

Pat Riley is student teaching at Amundsen High School in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood for the fall of 2010. He will be teaching Contemporary American History, starting just before the Civil War, as he works towards his Type 9 certificate with an endorsement in History and hopefully Business. Previously, he worked in public relations and business development for a law firm in Chicago, but decided his passion was education. Prior to working in public relations and business development, Mr. Riley received a B.S. in Kinesiology with a focus in Sports Marketing from Indiana University. Follow his blog at Musings on Apples and Education.
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One Response to It’s Like Tai Chi

  1. Danae Becka says:

    I don’t always agree with your posts, but this was dead on, way to go!